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Gant Says Elliott Candidacy Legit; Let 2014 Voters Decide, Let 2015 Legislators Amend

Pat Powers and the South Dakota Republican Party continue to scream about Burt Elliott's questionable residency status. I continue to find the question of where we allow a citizen to register to vote practically and Constitutionally important: should the Schoenbeck argument that Elliott committed perjury by declaring District 3 his voting residence also convict the thousands of full-time RVers and college students who spend a majority of the year somewhere other than the address on their voter registration cards?

Enter former Powers patron Jason Gant, our Secretary of State. He says as far as he's concerned, Elliott has committed no foul:

The facts are simple. Elliott’s longtime residence is south of Aberdeen near the intersection of South Dakota Highway 10 and 137th Street, a house that sits within the boundaries of District 2, but not far from the boundaries for District 3. Legislative district boundaries were redrawn after the 2010 census and before the 2012 election. When Elliott filed his petition as a District 3 representative, however, an Aberdeen address in the 1700 block of South Fourth Street address was listed.

It’s an address that matches with Elliott’s voter registration, and Secretary of State Jason Gant said in order for a candidate’s petition to be valid, his or her address on the petition must match the address on his or her voter registration card. The candidate’s petition must also have the appropriate number of valid signatures.

Since Elliott’s petition met those requirements, Gant said, he was certified as a candidate.

“Everything is accurate based on that,” said Gant, a Republican.

If there’s a desire to pursue the legality of the issue, Gant said, that issue would have to be challenged in court [Elisa Sand, "Secretary of State: Elliott Residency Valid," Aberdeen American News, 2014.10.26].

Hmmm... when Secretary of State Jason Gant validated a nominating petition of a Republican Powers liked, Powers was more than happy to trumpet that candidate's propaganda. Powers also poo-pooed further court challenges, telling those he called axe-grinders to settle for changing statute next session. But now faced with his pal Gant's validation of a less-favored Democrat's petition and with the argument from the Aberdeen American News editorial board that Elliott's opponents should settle for changing voter registration laws in the 2015 Legislature, Powers goes purple with rage. He misportrays the editorial, elides Secretary Gant's reasoning, and just goes on shouting, impervious to the fact that law and his patron are not on his side.

District 3 voters are now well aware of Elliott's residency situation. Elliott has a right to be on their ballot, and they have a right to elect him and send him home, wherever home may be. Legislators upset by Elliott's opportunity should start crafting their voting-rights reform bills for 2015... and prepare to be watched closely by students, RVers, and all of us interested in ensuring the right to vote of every person who calls South Dakota home.


  1. Tim 2014.10.26

    I smell a reason for our republican rulers to make a new law that will further restrict voters from voting, especially democrat voters. Wait and see.

  2. Bob Klein 2014.10.26

    Perhaps Gant is no longer in a position to be a patron for anyone! Throw him under the bus.

  3. grudznick 2014.10.26

    The Libertarian party is going to rise again when they re-file their papers and will become the second largest and second most powerful political party in the state.

  4. hmr59 2014.10.26

    Wow! This ruling and the Pine Ridge satellite voting station? Who is this man and what have they done with the "real" Jason Gant??? Perhaps a bit of "deathbed" (politically) wisdom...

  5. Dr 2014.10.27

    What the Aan neglected to report is that there are two documents Gant had to go by, his voter registration card, and he nominating petition. Ag Jackley said last week in Aberdeen that Brown Co Auditor Max Fischer should have caught it, if she would have done her job.
    Cory, you expect Rounds to tell the truth, well we in DIST 3 want Elliott to tell the truth. Now I understand US Senate and SD house are completely different but still the same concept. We teach our kids to tell the truth and Elliott is not telling the Truth.
    Legal action could happen. He could make history by not being seated by the legislature. Voters could see right through his shenanigans and send him packing.
    Regardless, the attacks on Elliott the next 8 days will continue.

  6. Dr 2014.10.27

    Oh and my wife(you have cited her a few times with eb5) agrees with Powers view of the editorial. And she hates this "political crap". In fact I didn't even asked her opinion. She just out of the blue said it while driving. If she thought pat was wrong she would say something. She hates politics.

  7. Bill Fleming 2014.10.27

    This seems like one of those cases where a picture could tell the whole story. By superimposing the two boundaries, pre and post the 2010 census redraw, one could most likely see the effect of any intentional political gerrymander.

    Seems to me that a legal tactic to counter such an effect would be fair play. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander. ;-)

    Imagine an unlikely circumstance whereby Pat Powers has been elected by his neighbors for years to represent their interests in the legislature.

    Then, by some bizarre twist of fate the Libertarian party comes into power just in time to redraw district boundary lines to meet the legal district population requirements.

    The count can be jiggered in such a way as to come out quite nicely if the new line is drawn around Pat's house, taking him away from the constituents who know, love, and want him.

    Which is precisely what Bob Newland, the new executive director in charge of redrawing boundaries had in mind.


  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.27

    Hey, DR, am I missing something? You say the AAN neglected to report that there are two documents, the voter registration card and the nominating petition. Reread these sentences from Sand's report, which I quoted above:

    "When Elliott filed his petition as a District 3 representative, however, an Aberdeen address in the 1700 block of South Fourth Street address was listed.

    "It’s an address that matches with Elliott’s voter registration, and Secretary of State Jason Gant said in order for a candidate’s petition to be valid, his or her address on the petition must match the address on his or her voter registration card. The candidate’s petition must also have the appropriate number of valid signatures."

    So Gant speaks of and AAN reports on exactly the two documents you're talking about, right?

    As for Elliott, well, isn't the truth now widely known? Doesn't everyone know that he has two addresses? Isn't every voter able to make an informed decision?

    As for the editorial, what makes it "political crap"? Has the AAN taken opposite positions on similar issues with other candidates, the way Pat is doing to serve his biases and his masters?

  9. DR 2014.10.27

    Sorry if I wasn't clear. These are the documents that the Brown County Republicans have available
    1: His Registration showing 1702 S 4th ST - Dated March 10
    2: His nominating petitions showing 1702 S 4th ST Dated March 24(I believe)
    3: A Speeding ticket in that he gave his district 2 address
    4: Dex Telephone Directory listing released in Sept 2014 with his dist 2 address
    5: Owner Occupied tax document from Brown Co.

    As far as Gant is concerned, the only two documents he sees are the registration and petitions. AG Jackley is aware of the situation, so is the Brown Co SA's office. With that said, they have proven in the past(Dr Boz) that they wait until the election is over. Could perjury charges be brought against Elliott, you bet.

  10. DR 2014.10.27

    Political crap is her words, not mine. Meaning she hates politics. Unfortunately for her, she married the wrong guy :)

  11. Liberty Dick 2014.10.27

    Now we have Lust and Schoenbeck talking about not seating Burt. Which should be the main body/headline of the story! People around town aren't too happy with Burt over this debacle. He is really hurting his reputation among the older voting crowd.

  12. Liberty Dick 2014.10.27

    Bill, is it duly elected if the ballots are printed before the infraction is made known?

  13. Bill Fleming 2014.10.27

    Dick, it is my understanding that the SOS has approved Mr. Elliot's being on the ballot and is allowing the election to proceed. Is this not the case? If it is, then wouldn't Mr. Elliot be considered "duly elected" (provided he garners the most votes) since the election officials did their "due diligence" and found everything to be in order?

    I suppose that's not something you and I could decide.

    Seems like it would be a matter for the courts.

    All I'm saying is that in addition to the other legislators, it seems to me that anyone who voted for Mr. Elliot would have legal standing in the matter, since it would be they who were having their votes invalidated. And perhaps they, like Mr. Elliot, don't like they way their district has been redrawn.

    I'm speaking purely hypothetically, of course, having only the slightest familiarity with the issue... only what I've seen on blogs and in the newspapers.

    Liberty Dick, do you support the practice of gerrymandering for political purposes?

  14. lee schoenbeck 2014.10.27

    Bill, the newspaper story is way different than the headline - the headline misstates the Secretary of State and the rules that apply. The Secretary of State just confirms that the candidate is registered to vote in the district he runs in. Where somebody actually lives is, of course, potentially very different than where they register. The decision about whether to seat Elliot, if he were to win, would be - according to the South Dakota Supreme Court - determined by the House of Representatives. If you read the Gutzler case you'll have a better feel for the applicable rules, than the AAN article provided

  15. Kurt Evans 2014.10.27

    Hey Lee, did you know Pat Powers doesn't approve my comments when I try to respond to you at South Dakota Smear College? Did you request that service or was it PP's own idea?

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.28

    The criticism of AAN's headline and content is misguided. Many news articles cover multiple aspects of a topic but headline only one. Sand's article does that. The headline is not inaccurate. It reflects the new news on the topic. The GOP leadership's threat to overturn the will of District 3 voters, while really important and interesting, has already been reported (see the September 28 AAN). Republicans don't like it when their preferred message isn't echoed loudly by the press, just as we Democrats don't like not getting top-of-mind-awareness for our preferred talking points, but the AAN is not showing some nefarious bias in its headline of Sand's article.

  17. lee schoenbeck 2014.10.28

    Come, come Cory, now you know better. he Secretary of State doesn't, and Gant in the article didnt't say, what the headline says - that their office determined the residency was valid. Read the article again. All they do, and said, is that the statutory minimum to be certified as a candidate were met, beyond that, he noted, it's not his office that makes the decision.
    You get to have different opinions, but you don't get an alternative world view of the facts :)

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.29

    I should be nervous playing word games with a lawyer. But Lee, the headline is defensible. "Elliott Residency Valid"—the article and Secretary Gant proceed to say exactly that: the matching addresses submitted by Elliott on his petition and his voter registration card make his residency valid for the purpose of Gant's placement of Elliott's name on the ballot. Gant has built his unique term on doing the statutory minimum, and the Republican Governor, Attorney General, and Legislature have been mostly fine with that approach to the job.

    Now if you want Elisa Sand to do a whole nother article analyzing Gutzler and Heinemeyer, heck, give her a call. Maybe she'll dig in and write you a story headlined, "Court Precedent: Elliott Residency Not Valid." But the story under discussion here accurately reports a new bit of news on this topic from the Secretary of State.

  19. Bill Fleming 2014.10.29

    I hope Lee will look into that P.O. Box gerrymander in District 33, especially if those suspicious RV voters tip the scale in Phil Jensen's favor in his race against Robin Page. That district is a topographical monstrosity with a monster State Senator representing it. Go Robin!

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